The Peace Corps has given us the option to create small group Romanian language weekends. If we want to participate, we think of a creative idea, design a curriculum, and find a teacher. Then we invite other volunteers from our region and the Peace Corps pays for travel and expenses. Past weekends include touring the Bucovina monasteries and learning to cook various Romanian dishes (all while speaking Romanian, of course).
But I think Sarah has had the most inspired idea yet. She decided to turn the tables and ask her students (ages 13-14) to teach us.
There are so many beautiful things about this idea. Many students are smart and hard-working, but may not be comfortable in English. This gives them the opportunity to interact with their teacher and other Americans in a new way. It also gives students an opportunity for leadership. If they're thinking about a career in education, it translates directly, but this kind of experience is useful for almost any job.
One of the biggest lies we tell children, through words but mostly through deeds and attitude, is that we know better than they do. My favorite thing about this experiment is that it gives the students the opportunity to be experts in a subject where adults aren't.
Seven American volunteers visited for the weekend and a total of 10 student teachers worked in groups to teach thirty to sixty minute lessons. Topics included adjectives, summer vocabulary, music, dancing, touristic places, and holidays. The kids have been learning more than just English from Sarah as well. The classes were dynamic and the pacing of lessons was excellent. We played games like Bingo and a cool trivia game called Zong. And, the teachers always asked if we understood the material and patiently answered questions. The bonus - we got prizes! They know how to motivate!
In the end, the project was a huge success, and I think it would be easily repeatable. Way to go Sarah and way to go to our awesome student teachers!